HASBRO INTROS FURBY WITH $5 MIL TV PUSH: ANIMATRONIC TOY LEARNS ENGLISH

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Hasbro's Tiger Electronics is engineering up for a $5 million TV push for the September rollout of Furby, a fuzzy animatronic toy.

Hype for the plush doll/virtual pet hybrid should begin in earnest later this month, when the September issue of Wired hits newsstands with a behind-the-scenes feature on Furby's creation. It will continue after the initial launch via an October promotion with cable's Cartoon Network.

FROM `FURBISH' TO ENGLISH

The TV spot for Furby created by Posnick & Kolker, New York, plays up Furby's linguistic and interactive capabilities. Furby initially speaks in its own language, "Furbish," but gradually learns English as kids play with the toy. Tiger will introduce six different Furbys, each with different fur and speech patterns. Furbys interact with other Furbys, singing, playing games and even catching each other's colds.

The Cartoon Network promotion will ask kids to decode phrases in Furbish by visiting the network's Web site or Tiger's own Furby site. The latter site when launched will include a chat room and downloadable electronic postcards written in Furbish.

Wired's flattering profile of Furby and its artificial intelligence features carries the headline: "The toy that will make you forgive Barney."

Tiger executives say they plan to continue their Furby marketing into the first quarter of 1999 with a cross-promotion with an undisclosed marketer. The toy will retail for $25.

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